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I'd say a large part of why it's seen as so iconic is because it's influenced a lot of what came after. The movie was released in 1982, and has been referenced as being a huge source of influence for several created works that came later, such as the creators of the widely popular Battlestar Galactica reboot that was on TV in the middle of the last decade, ...


The explosion is the gun going off -- in other words, muzzle flash -- and/or the beam (that purple light) subsequently coming up through the table. From there, the beam passes through the thermos before striking Holden, which sends him through the wall. EDIT: To provide more info on the beam shot by the gun, here's an excerpt from a Blade Runner fan site ...

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